In-water solutions from Seawork

A diver helps install a Miko plaster.
A 'standard' Miko Plaster in place
Industry Database

It seems that Seawork exhibitor Miko Marine is gaining ground – by keeping vessels at sea. Duncan Cunningham, Miko’ s UK contact point, explains to MJ that a growing range of clients are now using the company’ s magnetic plasters for in-water hull repairs ‘ when it just isn’ t that viable to bring a vessel to a repair facility.’

For example, there have recently been a few cases where an FPSO (Floating Production, Storage and Offloading) unit has needed to replace its hull valves, but the difficulties of untethering one of these large creatures and getting it into dock means problems, both logistic and financial.

Mr Cunningham explains that to cover the site of the repair, the Miko supplies a standard patch, (the largest measures 4.5 by 5 metres across), or a special patch which is usually a little smaller, and manufactured to fit the profile of the hull. This is done simply through the operator sending through an engineering diagram of area to which it is to be fitted: ‘making it up is something like dressmaking, we sew it all to shape,’ says Mr Cunningham.

The manufacturing process includes shaping the extremely strong outer layers. PVC is strengthened with Kevlar / Aramide – the material of bullet proof vests - and fixed to the inner layer which is made of Magnetically Impregnated Nitrile rubber. A number of lifting lugs, depending on size and application, are then welded onto the tarpaulin. Interestingly, the net weight of the patch in water may be adjusted to the clients specific needs, but based on the company’s experience, most Miko Plasters are now delivered with slight positive buoyancy.

‘It takes us around three to four days at the most,’ says Mr Cunningham, so it can be flown out to the site fairly promptly. However, he adds, ‘the quickest supply has been 24 hours - for an emergency situation.’

Miko’s provision of the kind of temporary, but reliable and watertight seals below the waterline has meant the company established test criteria and developed a thorough testing program. This has resulted in the Miko Tanker Kit being qualified by the classification society “Det Norske Veritas” (DNV).

The kit also includes tools for the event of emergencies. In recent years the owners and operators of FPSOs have been advised by the UK Health and Safety Executive of the growing risks to vessels and crew posed by the flooding of machinery spaces, pointing out the operation of floating installations differs significantly from those of trading ships and flooding incidents are more frequent than major process accidents.

Three companies with a number of applications, spanning both the offshore and commercial shipping sector, have recently been supplied by Mr Cunningham, who has just expanded his role to become Miko’s coastguard and MOD contact as well. The plaster definitely has a place on defence vessels, ‘Every ship in the French navy carries a Miko Tanker Kit or Miko Emergency Response Bag,’ says Mr Cunningham.

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